Reagan at 100: WTF you clowns doing down there?

RR with Tip O'Neill

Repeatedly documented, but rarely cited in the current kerfuffle over raising the debt ceiling are two things:

  1. 1. Ronald Reagan “repeatedly signed deficit-reduction legislation in the 1980’s that melded annual tax increases with spending cuts just as President Barack Obama is now asking Congress to consider.” from POLITICO via Steve Benen, here, and
  2. Congress raised the debt ceiling under George Bush seven times – every time he asked.

From Benen:

. . . it’s also worth noting that the conservative Republicans of the 1980s were absolutely certain that Reagan’s policy would destroy the economy, and as part of the right’s unyielding track record of failure, they were wrong.

The larger point, though, is that when the 40th president sat down with lawmakers  to work on debt reduction, he accepted as a given that the agreement would include a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. The debate would be over the ratio. Indeed, it’s one of the reasons Reagan ended up raising taxes in seven out of the eight years he was in office. (Remember, “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.)

Republicans in Congress balked in 1983. Reagan wrote to then-Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. (R-Tenn) about their intransigence. From the letter:

The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar.

Now Baker was a Senator I admired for his moderation, and many Republicans in the Congress then may have been right about the dangers of the debt. But that is not the point. Then, as now, they were ignoring the causes and resisting action on the consequences.

More from Benen:

Mike Huckabee recently said, “Ronald Reagan would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time being nominated in this atmosphere of the Republican Party.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had a nearly identical take last year, arguing Reagan “would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.”

It’s also worth noting that the GOP never shut down the government when Republican presidents Reagan or Bush or Bush were in office. They did it only when the Democrat Clinton was in office. And now they threaten to do it to this Democratic president.

For the good of the country of course.

32 responses to “Reagan at 100: WTF you clowns doing down there?

  1. “melded annual tax increases with spending cuts just as President Barack Obama is now asking Congress to consider” What REAL spending cuts has Obama asked for? If he proposed cutting at least a trillion from this budget I would be on board with some tax increases to cover the rest of the deficit.

    “Congress raised the debt ceiling under George Bush seven times – every time he asked.” And according to the left, in which I agree on this, Bush’s economy was a failure. Why do you then ask for the great “hope and change” President to do more of the same?


    • mcoville – my point here is the intransigence of the Repubicans. Obama – sadly – already caved in to them on extending hte Bush tax cuts. I think he was foolish not to tie the debt ceiling to that vote and avoid all this.

      The health care act last year triggers all kinds of savings – money we won’t have to spend. I’m too lazy (it’s summer in Florida!) to scoop up the list of what spending cuts Obama/the Dems have agreed to – but there are many and they actually do approach a trillion. If you push me, I’ll go looking, but . . .

      The debt ceiling vote is NOT the time to redesign our budget in terms of cuts OR taxes . But the Congress is seriously dysfunctional. Serious people would deal with these things seperately. In fact, I’m increasingly coming around to the idea that our entire system of government is past its sell date and we need serious reforms. Not going to happen though, which does not bode well for our future.

      Anyway, nice to see you.


      • Sorry if I was not clear about the cuts, they need to cut $1 trillion from 1 years budget. When politicians through around trillion dollar numbers it is in terms of decades, and in those decades we will still amass tens of trillions in debt and that is unsustainable.

        I agree that budget cuts and taxes should not be a part of debt ceiling debates, but seeing as the last congress failed to pass a budget and the current senate refuses to consider any REAL budget cuts this year, we need to use what they want to get what the country NEEDS.

        Democrats only pay attention when their credit cards are maxed out and they want to increase their limits for new spending.

        I am glad to a part of the conversation, and the summers in Central Florida are beautiful, I am loving the sunshine and rain.


        • Actually, summer in SW Flordia are beautiful too. The snowbirds have left, there’s parking space at the library – and I love those summer storms too. The dark sky, the downpour, the rainbow, the cool evenning . . . yeah, nice.

          Has anyone, either party, proposed anything approaching a trillion in a
          year? I know the conventional wisdom is that Dems are the ‘tax and spend’ party, but recent years just don’t bear that out. It may have been true up to around 1980, but it’s changed since then. Now it’s all “Borrow and spend and don’t dare even meniton the word taxes”. Taht’s not sustainable either.


        • “Economist Mike Kimel notes that the last five Democratic Presidents (Clinton, Carter, LBJ, JFK, and Truman) all reduced public debt as a share of GDP, while the last four Republican Presidents (GW Bush, GHW Bush, Reagan, and Ford) all oversaw an increase in the country’s indebtedness.[1] Economic historian J. Bradford DeLong observes a contrast not so much between Republicans and Democrats, but between Democrats and “old-style Republicans (Eisenhower and Nixon)” on one hand (decreasing debt), and “new-style Republicans” on the other (increasing debt).”

          In regards to reducing our debt. I’ve mentioned this time and again in other blogs that just getting our healthcare costs inline with those of
          Canada and other European nations would save us close to a $1 trillion annually.

          “Actually, summer in SW Flordia are beautiful too. The snowbirds have left, there’s parking space at the library – and I love those summer storms too.

          suffice it to say that Florida is a great place to be in summer even with the heat and humidity. As much as we need snowbirds for our economy it’s always nice to see them head back home just for the drop in local traffic.


        • Has anyone, either party, proposed anything approaching a trillion in a year? That is the problem in Washington, no one is serious about fixing the the national debt. Rand Paul was the closest with his budget proposal.

          I agree that the progressive Republicans have done nothing to curb Federal spending, its one of the biggest things that have lead to the rise of the Tea Party protests. Unfortunately the Democrats show no sign of caring about lowing government spending beyond what can look good in a campaign commercial without hurting their bureaucracy.


          • “I agree that the progressive Republicans have done nothing to curb Federal spending, its one of the biggest things that have lead to the rise of the Tea Party protests.”

            I would call them many things but progressive isn’t one of them.

            Rand Paul’s cuts are largely on the backs of the middle class and the poor. I don’t see any corporate subsidies being eliminated or a repeal of the tax break for the wealthy.

            I seem to be spitting this into air but I’m going to do it again. Getting out of control healthcare costs under control is really the best place for us to start. Canada and most European nations healthcare cost come in between 8% and 11.5% of GDP. Our healthcare costs last year were 17.6% of GDP and our healthcare costs are rising at a faster rate as well. It’s expected that our healthcare costs will be around 18.8% this year. Last year the United States measured by GDP had a $14.6 trillion dollar economy.

            Now if we take a mean of the health costs achieved by Canada and European nations we get 9.75%, subtract that from 17.6% we a difference
            of 7.85%. Take 7.85% of $14.6 trillion and we get an annual savings of about $1.1461 trillion. Now consider that all of those nations achieve that with everyone covered then we in theory could do it as well while covering the estimated 48 million uninsured. Even better of course is that those same nations have lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancies than we do.

            We will never get our national debt under control until we get an equitable healthcare solution that is under control. What concerns me is that the “right” seems to think that we’re just to stupid to achieve what so many others have achieved.


          • hlgaskins, I couldn’t agree more about health care costs being central to any solution. I was deeply disappointed by how timid the Obama health care law was compared to what’s needed. Ideologies be damned, we have a solution staring us in the face. Medicare, we know, works very very well. It’s just too expensive (given the high cost demographic it serves), even though it has the lowest per capita administrative costs of anything else in the country. Medicaid is more expensive and elvis knows that private insurers are vastly more expensive. And sadly we leave so many people behind.

            We need Medicare for ALL. It would have an enormous impact on our debt and an enormous impact on cutting costs by reducing the need for emergency care or late-stage care. We’d pay into it as we do now at various rates for various ages and whatever. It would be utterly sustainable.

            Everywhere else in life – in buisness, in cooking, in decorating, in construction, in marketing, everywhere – we look at what others are doing. We seek out successful models and copy them. That’s just applying common sense and using best practices.

            Then if we could let the Bush tax cuts expire, as they were supposed to have already, we’d be on our way to a healthier country.


          • mccoville, Rand Paul comes up with big numbers, but not with anything that’s remotely possible in a mature democracy of 300+ million people.

            And as hlgaskins says below, it’s not just that Republicans haven’t curbed the spending (i.e., the borrowing), they in fact have created a great deal of it.

            What I think the tea party has sensed, even if it’s not what they’re articulating, is that we increasingly (original point of this post!) have dysfuctional government. It’s not working and they see that.


  2. Sadly we are not making the case yet. And the public is so with us on this. They overwhelmingly want the rich to pay their fair share, so why are we not harping on this? Idiot McCain claims the electorate elected them on a no raising taxes platform. Who is he kidding? Can he not read a poll? They elected the REthug house to get jobs? Seen one yet?


    • Hi girl. Been meaning to drop you a note to affirm that I have not forgotten aboiut passing on the Stylin’ award. It will happen. Shame on me.


  3. Thank You Moe!……

    I have been hitting this REAL hard for the alst few weeks!


  4. last…Sorry!

    I do move toooo fast!


  5. For far too long the Democrats have been failing to make their case. Everyone can say in six words what the GOP stands for (lower taxes, less government, strong military). Ask them what the Dems stand for and it’s all over the place.

    Sherry – I was just reading some polls this morning and it’s amazing to me. People know what’s needed and htey know what’s right for now. They are so far ahead of D.C.

    james – I know! (I”ve been meaning to meniton to you tha tI keep forgetting that your newest posts go to the bottom of the home page,and when I go over there, at first glance it seems like there’s nothing new. Is that intentional?)


  6. If we closed the tax loopholes on corproations and ended their subsidies (read welfare), rolled back just the Bush tax cuts on millionaires and billionaires, and cut the Pentagons budget (to about 4 or 5 times what other countries spend from the six times what our nearest rival spends) there would be no reason to cut anything. The corporitist manufactured budget problem goes away. Period. There would be nothing left to debate! Our treasury would be awash in money in a short time.


    • Indeed, JayEll, that would do it. Now, can you see our congress critters making it happen? Certainly the Repubicans won’t go for it and I fear the Dems won’t fight hard enough for it.


  7. “1. Ronald Reagan “repeatedly signed deficit-reduction legislation in the 1980’s that melded annual tax increases with spending cuts just as President Barack Obama is now asking Congress to consider.”

    Reagan has always been more “Bonzo than Gipper.” Did you notice that Reagan was in the Kate Smith Youtube clip that you posted?

    Republicans are always willing to find money with no debt too high when it comes to reenforcing American hegemony abroad. Corporate control of America isn’t a new thing, but challenging our right to vote through over funding of the opposition is. The one man/woman one vote is their weakness, and the lack of funding, ignorance, and complacency of those we stand for is ours. That’s why we stand for them!


  8. Moe I expanded the recent post window on the main page right top to include the last ten posts….

    I hope that helps….
    Or try the RSS feed

    What’s the story with T&P?
    The new theme is cool …but there are NO savings of comments?


  9. Yea over at T&P’s on the no comment thing…..


  10. Pingback: Review Of The 100 Whatever Works

  11. Aside from all the back and forth on who adds to the debt and such, I say: Moe you little devil!

    I don’t think anyone commented on it but the title “Reagan at 100: WTF you clowns doing UP there” is I assume a sneaky comment on where the 40th President went for his afterlife. Assuming in the title your assuming the role of Dutch and saying Up no down there.

    Well played Ms. Holland.


    • No bruce, really no! It didn’t even occur to me. Politics aside (and it’s hard with Reagan) I think he was a good and kind man. I would have liked him, as I think would anyone who’s read his personal letters.

      Re the language, I think it came more from childhood and the sound of our mothers calling up the stairs “what are you kids doing up there!?!”



  12. I grew up in a one story house, there were only two of us and we didn’t get yelled at much. So I didn’t relate to the up there.

    I’ll accept your alibi for now.


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